There are a few British company names that strike me as being incredibly evocative. Barbour is one, Gloverall is another. The story behind Gloverall is so quintessentially quirky and British that I shake my head in wonder every time I think of it. Way back after WW2 the company was called Gloves & Overalls Ltd. in 1951 though bought a huge amount of ex-armed forces duffel coats and rebranded to Gloverall. Discovering that the public was actually really keen on duffel coats, they then started producing their own. So the actual Gloverall story started in 1951, which not surprisingly is the name of the vintage-inspired collection I’m taking a look at today.
The overall theme of the 1951 collection is vintage motor racing. The 50’s and 60’s were tremendously exciting times in the world of racing, factory against factory, country against country, racing all over the world. The red Italians versus the silver Germans against the green British. Surplus airfields such as Goodwood were converted into racetracks and suddenly the old tarmac was transformed into a site of grime and glamour, the smell of motor oil and the roar of large-bore engines. At the time though, it would have been wiser to find friends among those that weren’t drivers, as the life expectancy wasn’t generally long. In the photo above we have Tony Brooks in the duffle coat (83 now), Stirling Moss (86 now) and Mike “Golden Boy” Hawthorn (died at 30, racing a German driver on public roads near Guildford, his story can be enjoyed in this book by a couple of friends of mine.).
Anyhow, getting back to our point, with the “1951” collection Gloverall are looking back to their earliest days, with a collection inspired by vintage pieces and motor racing. I have to be straight up here, the images that go with this collection are right up my street.
I just adore the black and white photography, the empty race track and there are so many of the pieces that would happily find a home in my collection. There is no doubt about it, this is manly stuff, and the references to a time when motor racing was noisy, fast and unsafe, with the drivers being fearless, heroic and in many cases half-cut, is a great counter piece to todays sanitised world.
My favourite pieces in this collection are as follows:
When we’re in the world of Gloverall, we have to have a duffle. For me the duffle is what Gloverall is all about, and this one has some added different as well with the new patches and the great hood lining. The patches may not be to everyone’s taste, but even if you removed them you’d still be left with a marvellous looking duffle coat! Plus, it’s available in two lengths, so even a shorter guy like me can get one that doesn’t make me look like a kid that’s stolen his dad’s coat.
Next up, a bomber jacket in tweed. I’m not normally one for a bomber jacket, but making it in tweed sold me on it. It looks marvellous, and if you don’t like tweed (as if, right?), it’s available in other fabrics as well.
The same tweed, but in a more traditional tweed jacket form. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but this jacket just looks very right. It could be the tweed, it could be the shape of the pockets. In any case, it’s spot on.
The care coat, in grey melton wool with quilted lining and plenty of pockets. There are lots of wool coats around at the moment, all variations over a similar style, but this one just looks right, and usefully short as well.
I could’t help myself, I like this duffel as well. This is the full length Monty, named after Field Marshal Montgomery (an enthusiast of the original duffel, worn in a loose-fitting size). This is a classic jacket.
More info to be found on the Gloverall 1951 website.
If I could mention one flaw in the photography for the 1951 collection, it has to be the choice of car used. While the Jaguar E-type certainly adds to the iconic imagery and looks and sounds awesome on the racetrack, the earliest E-type was introduced in 1961. Then again, I’m a nerd about this stuff 🙂